Brilliant satire from Anne Michaels

July 21, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

In the Atlantic‘s summer fiction issue, Anne Michaels has an inspired satirical piece about the globalization of writing and reading. It’s the kind of raucous, howling broadside that Jonathan Swift used to produce, and it’s one of the most hilariously subversive analyses of CanLit in years.

A few examples:

  • [T]oday we are entangled as never before – by the global consequences of our actions, small and large. A dolphin in captivity is taught to please a human audience and then, once released, teaches these skills to wild dolphins an ocean away.
  • We are marinated in our childhoods, in the places of our earliest memories. Even when a writer decides never to write overtly about his childhood – perhaps the food of that childhood is too hot and burns the tongue, or is too cold to be eaten with pleasure – nevertheless, for a writer, it is a metaphorical meal that must be eaten, if only in private.
  • Despite the ease with which we cross borders and enter the experiences of others, some truths will not change: love finds us wherever we are, a child is born in only one place, the ground where we bury our dead becomes sacred to us.
  • And where does a writer metaphorically wish to be laid to rest? In a book, in a reader.

Where does a writer metaphorically wish to be laid to rest? In a reader. Great stuff. Really, really funny. This brand of blistering satire is woefully rare in the pantheon of Canadian literature. Too often our writers present themselves as relentlessly sombre and sober, refusing even the merest hint of witticism for fear that they will be labeled frivolous. We desperately need more writers courageous enough to follow Michaels’ example and give themselves over bodily to the sort of rollicking, hysterical …

… Sorry, what? …

She’s serious?

Oh, my.


One Response to “Brilliant satire from Anne Michaels”
  1. Jai says:

    I see what you did there.

    Well played, sir!